Human beings need nutrients to survive. Nutrients help ensure our growth and the optimum functioning of our vital organs and provide us with energy. When it comes to performing our daily tasks, there is one type of nutrients that we absolutely need. They are called macronutrients, or macros for short.
The prefix “macro” is derived from the word makro, which means big or large. The human body needs macronutrients in large quantities because they provide us with the energy we need to maintain different body functions and to perform our daily activities. There are three broad classifications of macro-nutrients. They are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Why Are Macros Important?
As explained earlier, macronutrients provide us with energy, which is counted as calories. All types of macronutrients—fat, carbs, and protein—provide us with calorie or energy. However, the amount they offer differs according to their type. For example, carbohydrates and protein each provide four calories of energy per gram, while fat offers nine calories of energy per gram.
Apart from providing us with energy, macronutrients also help us maintain our body. They also make food more palatable and delicious for us because macros have an effect on the taste, texture, and appearance of food.
Types of Macronutrients
Protein, carbohydrates, and fats all vary in chemical composition. Fats are mostly composed of hydrocarbon chains that contain 75% to 85% carbon, while carbohydrates are made up of about 50% oxygen and similar to fats. Carbs usually have less than 5% nitrogen or none at all. Proteins, on the other hand, are composed of 15% to 25% nitrogen and about an equal amount of oxygen.
These three macronutrients are usually found together in most foods but in varying amounts. In some cases, they can be found alone.
How Many Macros Do We Need?
The amount and ratio of macronutrients a person needs every day differ by age, lifestyle, and gender. They also depend on the health status and health goals of a particular person.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides recommendations for the number of calories Americans need per macronutrients. These recommendations include those for the general population, as well as individual recommendations that professional health care providers can give to their patients based on the calculation of personal factors. Meanwhile, the recommended daily allowance or RDA of macronutrients for the average adult is 45 to 65 grams of carbohydrates, 10 to 30 grams of protein, 25 to 35 grams of fat, and 21 to 31 grams of fiber.